When asked how typical risk management exercises are conducted, most project managers reply that this involves conversations and documentation around risk events and their respective probabilities and impacts. While this is a necessary and beneficial exercise, this standard approach and mind-set does not account for taking time to recognise and focus on maximising opportunities, and it often leads the team and project manager in the opposite direction.
Effective risk management should not be focused solely on recognising possible failure points, but also on learning how to best recognise and capitalise on opportunities to ensure both project and future success.
Opportunity Management is about removing barriers to success and creating a path for yourself and your teams.
Make sure you create time not only to identify and deal with risk, but also to recognise and capitalise on opportunities in your projects.
Chances are this change in perspective will enable you to see multiple opportunities that may not have arisen otherwise.
Enumerated here are six opportunities that nearly every project manager, regardless of discipline, can and should capitalise upon.
1. Take the opportunity to recognise and reward success.
Successful projects are always the result of successful teams. Successful teams are the result of the collaboration and efforts of motivated and talented individuals. The project manager must maximise all opportunities to recognise and reward team success.
This can be challenging in today’s marketplace given the tremendous financial emphasis on budgets and spending. In tough economic markets, don’t discount the importance of direct individual feedback.
2. Take the opportunity to provide and ask for feedback.
Feedback is an incredibly powerful, yet often overlooked opportunity that can be utilised with peers, direct reports management vendors and senior management as well. Many project managers realise the importance of providing feedback to functional managers but fail to maximise opportunities that may arise from asking for feedback.
The important thing to keep in mind is that people always remember how they were treated and made to feel, long after the American Express gift checks are spent. We as project managers are in a unique position to provide both constructive criticism and praise to both team members as well as their functional management.
It is the project manager’s responsibility to stand up for team members to ensure that their best interests are represented.
3. Take the opportunity to network with professional project managers in your field regarding lessons learned.
Most professional project managers aren’t shy about sharing lessons learned, opportunities they’ve maximised and those they’ve missed along the way!
Take the opportunity to share experiences as well as to learn from others. Local PMI chapters, special interest groups and LinkedIn are but a few of the many ways to accomplish this. These lessons learned could very well be the result of feedback from number two, above!
4. Take the opportunity to utilise and involve senior leadership and your sponsor.
Never underestimate the value of the project sponsor when it comes to removing obstacles to get things done. People tend to listen a bit more intently when senior leadership speaks.
Allow them to be engaged and assist with removing barriers and obstacles. Project initiation is also a great time to have candid conversations with leadership about their vision for the project as well as opportunities they foresee. This also affords you the opportunity to highlight movement toward and capitalisation on said opportunities in status meetings.
5. Take the opportunity to recognise cultural boundaries, international holidays and cultural differences, etc.
Most teams these days are a veritable melting pot of cultures and time zones. As such, communicating and determining a mutually agreeable time for the team to meet often presents many challenges and opportunities.
The project manager should take the opportunity to build rapport with international team members and stakeholders by learning about international holidays as well as working off-hours to account for different country’s time zones.
6. Encourage Opportunity Management within your teams.
This demonstrates to the team that you not only value their input, but are willing to recognise and implement it toward the success of the project.
Everyone has unique perspectives and insights regarding opportunities within the project—oftentimes all you have to do is ask.
Capitalising on these six opportunities will assist with building rapport within team as well as provide the project manager and team with valuable and timely information beyond conventional risk exercises.